Dolomites Project 2010.
Photographs by Olivo Barbieri.
32 pp., 12 color illustrations, 15x11½".
Over 250 million years old, the Dolomites of northeastern Italy are one of the world's most sublime mountain ranges. For Italian photographer Olivo Barbieri (born 1954), skilled at the creative exploitation of photographic kinks of perception, the ragged and pockmarked surfaces of the Dolomites present an ideal subject. Barbieri interprets the mountains as almost sentient, mobile forms, bestowing upon them something of the eerie toy-town touch of his previous project and monograph, The Waterfall Project (2008). As that work showed, Barbieri feels that it is almost impossible to photographically compel the majesties of nature to astound us as they once did. In the outline of the summits of the Dolomites he sees a “story of the world seen upside down,” and portrays them as no longer instances of the sublime in nature, but rather as marvelous entities colonized by commerce. “Seascapes, great waterfalls, mountains and historic towns are fragile theme parks,” Barbieri declares; “Entertainment has virtually replaced the sublime. Views of megalopolises can, by size and consideration, compete with nature in the human imagination, in terms of importance.” Dolomites Project invites the viewer to marvel at nature, all the while qualifying its wonders with the nagging edge of artifice.